How to Keep a Pool Clean Cheaply by Doing it Yourself

8 years ago, when I bought my house, it came with a pool. The previous homeowner used someone to maintain the pool but I decided to do it myself. I am glad I did.

Learning how to keep a pool clean cheaply is not very difficult and can be handled by any competent person who is prepared to do some research and learn “on the job”. Like many things, it may seem complicated initially but will become much easier, quite quickly, as you gain experience.

My advice is just read up about it online, watch some Youtube videos and go for it. If you have a friend with a pool then perhaps ask them to come around the first time and guide you.

Pool Maintenance Course

When I first bought my house with a swimming pool I knew nothing about how to clean and maintain it. I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.

It was probably the best money I spent that year as I have saved thousands by doing it myself.

Pool care handbook

How hard is it to maintain a pool?

When people first get a swimming pool either by having it built or by buying a home with one already installed then probably one of their first questions will be is pool maintenance hard?

Cleaning a pool is not rocket science, although there is a little science involved in keeping the pool chemistry correct. Most people who have a little time each week (perhaps an hour or two) can learn to keep a pool clean quite easily.

There are two main parts to maintaining a swimming pool which are:

1. Physically cleaning the pool

Although this is the most time consuming, labor intensive part of maintaining a pool it is perhaps the easiest in many ways. It involves using various cleaning tools to remove any dirt in or floating on the pool.

The main cleaning activity is using a pool vacuum to remove dirt at the bottom of the pool. The pool vacuum connects to the pool filter system and sucks water up through a pool hose and the vacuum head and filters it out before returning the cleaned water to the pool. The whole system is very similar to a household vacuum cleaner except that it sucks water instead of air.

As well as vacuuming the pool you also need to use a pool brush to remove any dirt or algae in the pool sides, steps etc. You normally do this before vacuuming.

You will also need to skim any leaves or other debris from the surface of the pool using a net, ideally daily, particularly if the pool is near trees.

There are some other activities such as emptying the skimmer baskets and the pool pump basket and also, if you have a sand filter, then it will need backwashing to remove the dirt from the sand.

You may find my pool cleaning schedule checklist useful.

2. Pool water chemistry

How hard is it to maintain a pool
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This, for many, is the most difficult part to maintain a pool. I suppose that with physical cleaning you can actually see what you are trying to remove and that you are succeeding. With pool chemistry it is all a bit “invisible” and you are relying on testing to see what needs to be done and whether you are doing a good job.

But having said that, although it is science to some extent it is not rocket science! Anyone can quickly learn what chemicals may need to be added to the pool to correct the pool chemistry.

On a regular basis you will add chlorine in some form. The chlorine prevents the growth of algae and also kills harmful bacteria to keep the water safe to swim in.

You may also need to add chemicals to reduce or increase the pH depending on what the pool test strip tells you about the condition of the water. In addition you could need to add algaecide or shock your pool with a high dose of chlorine.

There are tablets available which not only contain chlorine but other agents such as stabilizer, clarifier, stain remover, descaler and algaecide.

How often does a pool need to be cleaned?

This does depend on how often the pool gets used and where it is situated (ie near or under trees, in a dusty area).

If it was in a courtyard area protected from the wind and vegetation and not used very frequently then it may only need cleaning every few weeks.

However, if it is near trees in a windy area and gets used every day (particularly by children) then you may have to clean it every few days.

I have trees around my pool and generally clean it once a week, which many gurus say is the average while others say it is a minimum. You will soon learn how frequently yours needs cleaning.

How long does it take to clean a pool?

Obviously this is going to depend on things such as how big the pool is and how dirty it is.

When you first start learning to maintain a pool it may take you a couple of hours but you will get quicker with practice.

My pool is 25ft x 15ft, and I live in a dusty part of the world (think Arizona by the sea), so it is often fairly dirty. From start to finish now takes me under an hour once per week.

I cleaned my pool the other day in just 62 seconds – but I had help from my video editing software 😉

What do I need to clean a pool?

Assuming you have an in-ground pool then you will need the following basic swimming pool cleaning tools to maintain a pool as a minimum:

Pool brush

You will use this to brush the sides of your pool to remove any dirt or algae. When I say remove, you will remove it from the sides and it will settle on the bottom ready to be vacuumed away.

A very popular low-cost basic brush is the Blue Devil Pool Wall Brush Deluxe.

Skimmer net

This is probably the tool you will use most frequently. You will inevitably get leaves, insects and other debris floating on your pool so will probably need to skim these out using the net once a day to stop them from becoming waterlogged and settling on the bottom.

I use this Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net which has a fine mesh and a very effective leaf rake on the front edge.

Vacuum head

This is the part of the vacuuming system that you push along the bottom of the pool and which sucks up whatever is there. It is very similar to a regular vacuum head on a domestic vacuum.

A good all rounder is the Milliard Sea-Thru Triangle Weighted Pool and Spa Vacuum Head. It has a two size vacuum port so will fit both 1½ and 1¼ inch hoses and will fit most pool poles.

Vacuum hose

This fits into the top of the vacuum head and the other end is inserted in the skimmer pipework or a dedicated pool vac port if you have one. The water is then sucked through the hose from the vacuum head. You need one that is ideally slightly longer than the furthest corner of the pool from where you will insert the hose.

One of the most popular ranges is the U.S. Pool Supply vacuum hoses. They can be bought in lengths from 25ft to 40ft and have a swivel fitting to stop the hose becoming kinked as you vacuum. The U.S. Pool Supply 1-1/2″ x 40 Foot Professional Heavy Duty Spiral Wound Swimming Pool Vacuum Hose with Swivel Cuff will certainly cover most pools and is available on Amazon.

My article about what length of pool vacuuum hose you need may help if you are unsure what length to buy.

Telescopic pole

This connects to the vacuum head and allows you to push it around the bottom of the pool. If you do not have a dedicated pole for the brush and the skimmer net it will also be used for these too.

I use this JED pool tools 16ft pole which is available on Amazon and have had no problems with it.

I have written a full article about the equipment you can use to clean a pool – What equipment do I need to clean my pool? A beginners guide

Is it expensive to maintain a pool?

The largest cost to maintain a pool, once you have bought your cleaning tools, are chemicals. You can buy these in quantities that will last for many months. Like most things, buying in bulk works out cheaper.

When I first had a pool I did some online research to gauge how much it would cost and was surprised by some of the figures I saw. Having cleaned my pool for 7 years I can now say I am not just surprised but horrified by what some claim. They must either have an Olympic size pool or use gold-plated chemicals.

Some claim the cost is as much as $250 per month. I don’t know what planet they are on. The absolute maximum it costs me is $40-$50 and that would be the first clean after winter.

Money saving pool guide

Learn how to save money with pool maintenance hacks, the right equipment upgrades, and exclusive discounts for pool supplies.

How to Keep a Pool Clean Cheaply by Doing it Yourself 1

If you found this article “Is it difficult to maintain a pool?” useful then please check out my other articles.

Why are there two holes at the bottom of a pool skimmer?

How to bleed air from a pool pump